Mechily Rivera wanted a better life than what she had in the Philippines. She had so much to offer, beauty and high intelligence; surely she would do better if in the States.
Searching for a way out of a poverty-doomed life, she joined a “pen pal” agency which promised to match their clients with American men. And in 1989, Mechily, who had Americanized her name to Michelle, received her first letter from a Mister Jonathan Nyce, who described himself as a successful scientific professor from North Carolina.
Michelle was excited to have attracted the attention of a wealthy American. They exchanged many letters and even began talking by telephone.
In June 1990, 33 year old Jonathan, flew to the Philippines to meet the 23 year old Michelle. A week later, they were wed.
Michelle believed her dreams had finally come true. She had no way of knowing her married life and journey to America was founded on a simple lie that someday would be the first thread to unravel into a murderous end.
Jonathan Nyce was actually 44 years old.
The Nyce Guy
Tall and gangly, Jonathan Wesley Nyce was great at basketball but his social skills left a lot to be desired. While he had a couple of guy pals, he never could get comfortable around women.
Before he graduated high school, Jonathan planned to a lawyer but once he began his secondary schooling, he found he had a knack for science. And being a frequent sufferer of asthmatic attacks, he was determined to find a cure by using his Bachelor of Science degree to work in the medical research field.
Along the way, Jonathan married an Orthodox Jew, despite his Catholic raising, named Sylvia. The couple lived on a tight budget while he worked toward a doctorate. In the end, however, it wouldn’t be the lack of money that caused the couple to split, but the differences in religion. Jonathan enjoyed celebrating holidays such as Christmas, while Sylvia was willing only to observe Hanukkah. The marriage lasted only seven years.
Single again, Jonathan moved to California. It was there that he developed an enzyme-triggered treatment for pediatric cancer. Sadly, because the number of patients that would benefit from the drug were so small, thus creating little profit, Jonathan was unable to gain the financial backing needed.
Disappointed, Jonathan moved back to the East Coast to be closer to his parents. He signed on with East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, as an assistant professor.
At ECU, Jonathan continued his cancer research and discovered that the drug he invented also worked wonders for asthma patients. The investors who had once passed on providing capital for a pediatric cancer drug, was more than willing to financially back the same drug with a much broader market.
After some vicious disagreements among ECU staff, Jonathan Nyce was eventually allowed to patent his drug and EpiGensis Pharmaceuticals was born.
Jonathan had succeeded in his career, but still something was missing. He wanted to find love. Unfortunately, he liked being in control in every aspect of his life and American and European women were much too liberated for his tastes. Then a friend gave him a copy of The Manila Times and Jonathan spotted Michelle’s lonely hearts ad.
It was just what the doctor ordered.
Growing, Growing, GoingAfter their June 1990 wedding, Jonathan had to return to the United States without his bride while they awaited the approval of her Visa. They wrote daily letters, however, and often spoke by telephone. Finally, in March 1991, Michelle’s Visa came through and she boarded a plane to America.
By 1995, EpiGensis Pharmaceuticals was growing by leaps and bounds. Michelle was a stay at home Mom to two young boys, without a driver’s license and only knew a couple of people; it was a very lonely life. So she decided it was time to learn to drive. After taking a few classes, she took her first step toward freedom when she was granted a North Carolina driver’s license.
When a private New York investment firm pumped $5 million into EpiGensis, Jonathan put out the word that he was looking for a place to open a larger EpiGensis laboratory and was enticed by an offer made by Princeton, New Jersey.
Michelle was devastated by the family’s move north and became very depressed. She was again in a place where she knew no one, was a stay at home mom of three children now, and Jonathan traveled extensively. An extremely lonely Michelle spent hours on the phone with friends and family back in the Philippines and often questioned her decision to ever leave there in the first place.
Even as the Nyces purchased their dream home in Hopewell Township in the early part of 2000, things at the EpiGensis office weren’t so great. Many of Jonathan’s employees found him too boisterous, arrogant, and a compulsive liar. Regardless, EpiGensis continued to grow – until September 11, 2001; then Jonathan Nyce found himself in the same position as many other companies: little to no investors.
It was during this time that Michelle Nyce learned her husband had lied to her about his age. During a conversation with her mother-in-law, she discovered her husband was actually 52, not 44 as she had thought. Michelle was horrified that Jonathan had lied about something as trivial as his age.
She now looked at Jonathan in a whole new light. Michelle saw now the liar instead of the experienced man, the controller versus the provider.
Rather than love her husband, Michelle began to resent him.
A Budding Romance
In July 2002, Michelle met Miguel de Jesus, although he told her his name was Alexander “Enyo” Castaneda, when she ordered some trees for a landscaping project at the Hopewell Township home.
Miguel had a common law wife and two daughters, but they weren’t the reason he used an alias at work and with Michelle. His had adopted the fictitious name to avoid warrants on child support arrearage he owed a woman with whom he’d had a baby after a one night stand.
Until October of that year, the relationship between Michelle and Miguel was limited only to phone calls and texts until they consummated the affair in a seedy hotel.
Michelle was leading a double life now and Jonathan, as well as EpiGensis, was drowning in debt. Friends and family, both domestic and abroad, noticed the couple was fighting more frequently and with more intensity.
In July 2003, Michelle declined a vacation with Jonathan, their children, and his parents to the Outer Banks of North Carolina saying she had to stay behind to study and take an exam at the college in which she had enrolled. Truth was, she wanted to spend time with Miguel; but three days after Jonathan and the kids had left, Michelle and her father, who was in America on an extended vacation, took a bus and joined them.
Soon after they returned, Jonathan learned that Michelle’s classes had yet to even begin, much less already having exams. He suspected she was having an affair and began reviewing cell phone records for calls and texts. His suspicions were confirmed and he learned that Michelle was involved in an affair with Miguel after he confronted her and she fessed up.
Jonathan then decided to get rid of Michelle’s boyfriend in a more permanent way. Visiting the local FBI field office, Jonathan Nyce told agents that his wife’s lover was blackmailing him for money, threatening to release audio tapes of sexually explicit calls. Michelle, feeling guilty about the affair, backed up her husband’s false allegations. As a result, Miguel was arrested.
In an attempt to start anew, Jonathan took his wife on a second honeymoon to Charleston, West Virginia, despite having a stack of unpaid utility bills and new payment on a new Hummer.
But Michelle was still unhappy. The affair with Miguel had made her feel alive again.
Using their red number budget as an excuse and their daughter’s enrollment in kindergarten, Michelle took a second step toward freedom: she got a job.
Despite a restraining order prohibiting any contact, Michelle and Miguel were still talking on a daily basis. But Jonathan was making it more difficult. Anytime Michelle was away from home, Jonathan was calling frequently to ask her about her whereabouts.
When Jonathan put their house on the market, Michelle was outraged. She loved her life in New Jersey, her new friends and her job. Jonathan wanted to move them to Pennsylvania, nearby to his parents.
After Jonathan’s decision to move, things went from bad to worse for the Nyces. Michelle had changed her style, going from suburban Mom to sexy teen. Jonathan was extremely unhappy with his wife’s new fashion preference and extremely vocal about it, but Michelle had grown tired of Jonathan’s complaints. Frankly, she just didn’t care anymore.
Michelle and Miguel were on and off again, trying to call it quits but inadvertently winding up together again, always declaring their get-togethers “the last time.” Additionally, Michelle had stopped wearing her wedding ring at work and was openly flirtatious with a number of male customers.
Michelle had decided that once the house sold, she was filing for divorce. But in the meantime, she intended to enjoy Christmas and New Years, knowing it would be the last the kids had their family intact. She dreaded breaking their hearts by announcing her intentions, but it was what she had to do.
Sadly, the kids would receive worse news than a divorce announcement.
It All Comes to a Head
On the evening of January 15, 2004, Michelle and Miguel got together for one of their “last time” flings. But while they were together, Jonathan called. Seeing his number on her phone’s caller ID, Michelle turned the phone off. He tried to call her again around midnight, and the call went straight to voice mail.
Jonathan Nyce was outraged. He’d suspected Michelle’s affair with Miguel had resumed and, in his mind, his unanswered calls confirmed it. He went downstairs to wait for his wife to return home; sitting in the dark, listening for the sound of the garage door going up signaling her return home.
As soon as she walked in the door, Jonathan smelled the strong scent of Chanel and knew she had had sex with Miguel. Angry, he demanded to know where she had been. Michelle told him to mind his own business, which only enraged her husband more.
The couple continued to argue as Michelle went to check on her children. Finally, Michelle had had enough and told Jonathan she was leaving. She packed a suitcase and started for her car.
Jonathan realized she was really leaving, he was going to lose Michelle once and for all. He would no longer be able to control her, the woman he saw as his property; an item he had bought and paid for.
Then he lost it.
In a fit of rage, he yanked Michelle from the front seat of her Toyota Land Cruiser. The force of his hand was so violent, it left a bruise in the shape of fingers on her arm.
Michelle fought back. Jonathan then grabbed a baseball bat and swung at Michelle’s head. She fell to the floor, hitting her head on the Land Cruiser’s running board. Even injured, Michelle fought vigorously for her life. Sadly, at just a little over five feet tall and barely over 100 pounds, she was no match for her six feet four inch husband who grabbed her by the hair and smashed her head over and over and over into the garage floor, not stopping until he heard a sickening sound.
Despite the horrific beating, Michelle most likely lived another ten minutes or so until she choked on her own blood. Her husband, panicked, spent this time wondering what to do. After checking for a pulse and realizing his wife was dead, he sprung into action.
Covered in Michelle’s blood, Jonathan placed his wife’s battered body into the front seat of the Land Cruiser and placed her suitcase on the backseat. Climbing into the passenger seat, Jonathan backed the car out of the garage, leaving the headlights off to avoid being noticed by neighbors.
Finding it difficult to drive from the shotgun position, Jonathan went around to the drivers side, pushed the seat back as far as it would go, then climb in atop his wife’s body and pulled out the driveway.
Just a little over a mile from the Nyces house, at a deserted campsite along the creek on Jacobs Creek Road, Jonathan steered the SUV toward the creek and waited for it to come to a rest in the frozen water.
Wearing only a tee shirt, pajama bottoms, and moccasins, Jonathan stepped out the vehicle into the 6 degree Fahrenheit night and walked away from his wife’s dead body, leaving the engine running.
Back at 1 Keithwood Court, Jonathan set about the task of cleaning up the garage with white paper towels and hydrogen peroxide. He put one bag of the paper towels in the trash can and another behind the fireplace. And when he accidentally set off the house alarm, he quickly tossed his bloody clothing into the washing machine because he knew police would probably come by to check out the alert.
Discovery and Confession
Four PSEG maintenance workers were the ones to discover Michelle’s body and they immediately called for police.
Investigators called to the scene immediately realized this was not an ordinary car accident. Michelle’s body was too battered and bruised for such a relatively minor accident; and the car seat was back too far for Michelle to reach the pedals.
Running the license plate number, investigators learned the vehicle belonged to Jonathan and Michelle Nyce. Officers went to the Nyce home to see what they could learn.
The two younger children were home alone when cops arrived, claiming their mother had went to work early and their father was taking their older brother to school. So officers returned to their car to wait for Jonathan to return.
When he finally arrived, Jonathan invited the officers in and asked why they had come. They told him about the accident and he told them it was his wife. He then asked what hospital she was at. They didn’t tell him she was dead, unsure yet whether he was a grieving widower or a murderous husband.
After a short conversation, the officers read Jonathan his Miranda Rights and began asking him a few questions. Jonathan was more than willing to talk with them about he and Michelle’s marital troubles because of her infidelity. Even when his 5 year old daughter came to sit on his lap, Jonathan continued to tell the men about his wife’s boyfriend and the alleged extortion.
When the officers left, Jonathan notified Michelle’s friends and his family and then contemplated his conversation with the officers. Suddenly he realized he’d made a mistake. When he had exited the vehicle, he had stepped into the snow and left a trail of footprints behind. Knowing the detectives would most likely conduct a search of the home later, he grabbed his moccasins and used a scroll saw to remove the soles. As he was hiding the cut-up rubber, his daughter came into the basement to tell him more cops had arrived.
Officers asked the Nyce family to vacate the home while they conducted the search Jonathan had anticipated. Then Jonathan was asked to come to the police station to give a formal statement. He willing complied.
At first he stuck with the story he’d told them earlier that Michelle had never come home, but he finally broke down and confessed to killing his wife. However, he said he accidentally killed her in self-defense after he attacked her first.
Although a lie, it would be a story that would serve him well.
An autopsy revealed the extensive injuries suffered by Michelle, the sheer brutality of her death. An examination of Jonathan Nyce failed to find any signs of having been attacked as he had claimed.But those things would be lost in trial as the spotlight was shined on Michelle, a mail order bride, for all intents and purposes, who had cheated on the man who “saved” her from a life of poverty. How she and Jonathan came to be married, her affair, her attire, they all became the focus of Jonathan Nyce’s trial.
In July 2005, the jury found Jonathan guilty of Passion/Provocation Manslaughter and Tampering with Evidence. Even though it was essentially a slap on the wrist in terms of homicide convictions, Jonathan was shocked they’d found him guilty of anything, as was his family. They had all believed he’d walk away scot-free.
For the manslaughter charge, Jonathan Nyce was sentenced to seven years plus one additional year, to run consecutively, for tampering with evidence; a total of eight years.
With credit for time served before trial and a reduction of days earned for good behavior, Jonathan walked out of prison a free man on December 5, 2010. He was immediately reunited with his parents and his three children who had lived with his brother during his incarceration.
Just earlier this month (February 2012), he published his own eBook which he claims tells the “truth” about Michelle’s death. A quick reading of the synopsis appears to be his attempt to exonerate himself. I, for one, will never read it. I have a feeling it would be a lot like reading one by Casey Anthony: full of bullshit lies and a lot of self-serving drivel.
Note to Johnathan Nyce: Dude, you served 5 years for MURDER. No matter what pretty little title you put to it, it’s MURDER. And you’re out of jail, roaming free among us decent citizens who DIVORCE instead of KILL. Oh wait, that’s right, if you divorce, you can’t CONTROL. YOU ARE PATHETIC!
Believing he had cleaned away any signs of murder, Jonathan Nyce climbed into bed with his children and tried to pretend he’d slept soundly through the night.